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U.S. Readies UN Measure Carrying Out Iran Nuclear Deal

  • RFE/RL

U.S. President Barack Obama (right) called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on July 14 to try and assuage the Israeli prime minister's concerns over a nuclear deal that six world powers have struck with Iran.

U.S. President Barack Obama (right) called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on July 14 to try and assuage the Israeli prime minister's concerns over a nuclear deal that six world powers have struck with Iran.

The United States is drafting a United Nations resolution carrying out details of the Iran nuclear deal and will circulate it to the UN Security Council July 15, diplomats said.

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power will outline the main points in the agreement to council members. The resolution will replace the existing framework of Security Council sanctions with the restrictions agreed during negotiations in Vienna, Power said.

The resolution already has the backing of UN veto-wielding members who took part in the Iran talks -- Britain, the United States, France, China, and Russia -- as well as Germany.

Earlier on July 14, President Barack Obama reassured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the United States’ commitment to Israel’s security in a phone conversation on July 14, after Iran and major global powers sealed a landmark deal to curb Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

The White House said that Obama told Netanyahu the Iran deal "will not diminish our concerns regarding Iran’s support for terrorism and threats toward Israel."

Netanyahu called the deal "a bad mistake of historic proportions."

"Iran is going to receive a sure path to nuclear weapons. Many of the restrictions that were supposed to prevent it from getting there will be lifted," Netanyahu said. "Iran will get a jackpot, a cash bonanza of hundreds of billions of dollars, which will enable it to continue to pursue its aggression and terror in the region and in the world."

The Israeli security cabinet unanimously rejected the nuclear deal between Iran and the so-called P5+1 group of world powers: Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States, plus Germany. The cabinet said that Israel was not bound by the agreement, according to a statement from the prime minister’s office.

Other world leaders issued hopeful proclamations after more than a decade of negotiations and a grueling, 18-day final push in Vienna.

Obama said the deal would cut off every pathway to a nuclear weapon for Iran, which Western governments have long suspected of seeking the capability to build a bomb, and vowed to veto any legislation in the U.S. Congress that would prevent its implementation.

"We have stopped the spread of nuclear weapons" in the Middle East, Obama said in an address in Washington that was broadcast on Iranian television.

He said the deal offered a chance to "move in a new direction" in ties with Tehran, which have been severely strained since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution and aggravated by its nuclear activities. "We should seize it," he added.

In a televised address to the nation, Iranian President Hassan Rohani said the deal protects Iran's nuclear achievements -- a source of pride in the country, which says it is not seeking atomic weapons -- and annuls "illegal" sanctions.

He also said that if the nuclear deal "is implemented correctly...we can gradually eliminate distrust."

'Combating Terrorism'

Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country has been Tehran's strongest supporter in the UN Security Council and vocally opposes U.S. and EU sanctions against Iran, said the deal would contribute to combating terrorism in the Middle East.

Putin also said the deal would bolster civilian nuclear cooperation between Iran and Russia, which built the Middle Eastern nation's nuclear power plant, at Bushehr, and is planning more.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told journalists that, while the arms embargo remains in place, weapons deliveries will be possible "if they clear a notification and verification process in the UN Security Council." He called it a "compromise."

Lavrov also said he hopes that, in light of the deal, the United States will abandon the European antimissile shield it is putting in place, which Washington says is meant largely to counter a potential threat from Iran. The Kremlin claims it is aimed at undermining Russia's security, and the issue is a source of persistent tension.

The Reuters news agency cited diplomats as saying sanctions limiting Iran's ballistic missile program would not be lifted for eight years under the deal, and that a UN weapons embargo would remain in place for five years.

Iran had pressed for the immediate removal of the arms embargo, with support from weapons trade partner Russia, while the United States and other Western countries wanted it in place for a longer period of time.

Inspection Visits

The deal includes a compromise between Washington and Tehran that would allow UN inspectors to press for visits to Iranian military sites as part of their duties monitoring Iran's nuclear activities.

But access at will to any site would not necessarily be granted and could be delayed -- a situation that would open the door to disputes and is likely to be seen by critics as a sign that the global powers were not tough enough on Tehran.

Tehran would have the right to challenge the UN request and an arbitration board composed of Iran and the six powers would have to decide on the issue.

The deal includes a mechanism under which the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), could get access to suspect nuclear sites within 24 days.

A U.S.-drafted UN Security Council resolution setting out timelines for Iran’s compliance with a nuclear deal could be introduced "probably as soon as next week," a senior U.S. administration official told the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity.

The resolution is expected to enable economic retaliation if the deal is breached but is not likely to include any reference to military consequences.

However, another senior administration official said that military action will exist as a last resort.

Another thorny issue in the talks was the pace of the removal of sanctions, and the mechanism for putting them back in place should Tehran violate the agreement.

Obama said that "sanctions will snap back into place" if Iran violates the deal, saying that means there is an "incentive" for Tehran to comply.

Iran accepted a "snapback" plan that allows for the restoration of sanctions within 65 days in the event of noncompliance.

The UN Security Council has imposed four rounds of sanctions on Iran over activities such as uranium enrichment, and the United States and EU have slapped additional punitive measures on Tehran.

The sanctions have limited energy-rich Iran's oil exports, harming its economy and increasing its anger at the West, but years of intermittent negotiations on its nuclear program bore little fruit until an interim agreement was reached in November 2013.

U.S. Congress Review

In another step toward ending the confrontation over Iran's nuclear program, Iran and the IAEA agreed on a "roadmap" aimed at clearing up questions about Tehran's past nuclear activity.

The document, signed in Vienna on July 14 by IAEA head Yukiya Amano and Iran's nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, aims to resolve by the end of 2015 "all past and present outstanding issues that have not already been resolved by the IAEA and Iran."

Amano said that future international access to Iran's Parchin military site, which the IAEA had repeatedly sought, is part of a separate "arrangement." Salehi said Iran's "red lines" on access to Parchin had been respected, the Iranian news agency ISNA reported.

The hard-won deal to rein in the nuclear program of a nation whose officials sometimes call the United States the "Great Satan" is a major foreign policy victory for Obama, but Republican opponents warned it could face opposition in Congress.

In words he addressed to U.S. lawmakers in anticipation of such criticism, Obama said that the lack of a deal would mean "a greater chance of more war in the Middle East," and warned he would veto any legislation that would block implementation.

Congress will have 60 days to assess the deal, requiring Obama to await that review before easing some sanctions. During that time, lawmakers could try to assemble a veto-proof majority to back legislation that could impose new sanctions on Iran or keep existing ones in place.

A deal could also give a big boost to Rohani, a relative moderate who was elected in 2013 on promises to lessen the country's isolation, but it will put him under pressure to deliver economic improvements and make him even more of a target for criticism from hard-line members of the ruling establishment.

With reporting by Hanna Kaviani of RFE/RL's Radio Farda in Vienna, Reuters, AP, AFP, and TASS
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